Hairball Prevention & Remedies

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You hear your cat making unpleasant noises trying to regurgitate. Seconds later, you realize that they vomited up a clumped ball of mucus and fur. Not to mention, this isn’t the first time something like this happened. How can you help?

Cats spend a majority of their time during the day grooming themselves. They naturally keep themselves clean, which is why you don’t have to bathe them as often as you would for dogs. Their tongues have backwards facing barbs that catch loose fur and dirt that lie on the surface of their coat. Typically, their hairs will make their way through the digestive tract and exit out to their feces. However, when the hairs get stuck in the stomach, they can form into hairballs that can cause intestinal blockages in your cat. Some symptoms of hairballs include gagging, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and diarrhea.

Here are 5 ways to treat hairballs in cats:

  1. Brush regularly. - One way to reduce shedding is to brush their coats daily! Brushing can remove all the lose fur and prevent them from swallowing the hairs when they groom themselves. This also allows natural oils to be evenly distributed throughout the coat to help maintain a healthy, shiny coat. Cats with longer coats tend to have a higher chance of developing hairballs than short coated cats. Consider using Furminator’s Long Hair Cat deShedding Tool. Once they are adjusted to daily brushing, they’ll learn to love it!
  2. Spend quality time with your cat. - One cause of excessive licking and grooming is separation anxiety or purely out of boredom. The more time you spend with your cat, the less time they will focus on licking themselves. Distract them from grooming by keeping them entertained with new toys or simply giving them attention. Try to discourage them from grooming or licking when you see the recurring activity. Excessive grooming can also be a sign of other issues such as skin irritation, fleas, stress, or anxiety.
  3. Switching diets. - Another way to treat this issue is to change your pet’s diet to a formula with high dietary fiber and prebiotics. These formulas are specifically designed to help regulate their digestive system and stimulate their intestinal transit, which helps reduce the chances of hair from accumulating in the stomach. Several pet food brands have both dry and wet canned food available for hairball control.
  4. Mild laxatives - This helps the fur that enters the stomach pass through their intestines more easily and prevent hairballs from developing. Laxatives not only can help with hair balls, but they can also treat constipation, loss of appetite, lethargy and weight loss.
  5. Hairball aids with natural oils. - Both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are great supplements used to promote healthier skin and coats. These remedies can be used in pill or gel form made with fish oils and vitamins. This can reduce shedding and minimize lose fur.

If you follow these steps for treatment and your cat continues to have hairballs, please consult your veterinarian for a check up.

Winnie GohComment